Oscar snub
Image via Frances Brennand Roper

And the snub goes to…

by Frances Brennand Roper

It’s that time of the year again when we all dress up in our finest designer outfits, drink flutes of dazzling champagne, and walk down the red carpet towards our dreams… Well, some people will be doing that. I’ll be at home in my pajamas.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t have my speech prepared for the future. You see I’ve always believed that you can build your own platform; create your own dreams; be your own pied piper as it were.

So when Ben Affleck and Matt Damon won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay with Good Will Hunting, I knew that it was possible. They inspired me. Yet here we are, almost 17 years later, and films not unlike this classic have been overlooked by the Academy. It seems to have become a running theme in recent years.

Let me be clear, many of this year’s nominees deserve their nods for brilliance. Jean-Marc Vallée’s Dallas Buyers Club and Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine are prime examples. But, what about the other fantastic films that didn’t even get a look in? How could they possibly have slipped through the cracks?

The greatest snub of all I think goes to Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners. It’s arguably one of the best movies of the year in terms of story, performance, direction and score, whilst also being visually devastating… in an “I couldn’t breathe” kind of way. How did this masterpiece only get one nomination?

Two other stunning indie films were The Spectacular Now and The Way Way Back. Both of which, in their own ways, told simple coming-of-age stories. We watched as extraordinary actors pieced together their broken characters, making us believe that in the end it would all be OK. Not dissimilar in fact to Silver Linings Playbook, and yet both films were equally shunned.

So what happened?

Aren’t these three narratives perfect examples of what we’re trying to do with film? Evoking thoughts of honesty, compassion, empathy, hope and perhaps even justice in the audiences’ minds?

These movies made me want to make movies. To actually bring a whole story to life from beginning to end – the same way that Good Will Hunting did, or The English Patient, or Mystic River, or Raging Bull! I mean, surely if Sean Penn and Hugh Jackman had been nominated in the same year for Prisoners and Mystic River, it would be a race to the podium.

What is really going on then?

Well, it all boils down to Hollywood’s worst kept secret: the politics of Awards lobbying. Which of course the Academy ‘condemns,’ yet it’s still a huge facet of the Oscars’ race each year – even after new regulations were enforced in September 2011.

The simple truth is, rules or no rules, people will always try to win to the best of their ability. I suppose that’s just human nature, and as any Hollywood insider will tell you, there is no limit to the reach of a clever campaign. So if you’re on the right side of it, good on you… No, seriously, I mean that!

However, it does leave me wondering… If you don’t have the experience and the know-how to play the game, does that mean you’ll get left out of the cool kids’ lunch?

Well, I sincerely hope not!

Every man, woman and child at some point in their lives has written their own Oscar speech. Hell, I keep revising mine! It’s only natural to watch this magical night unfold and aspire to become one of the 3,100 attendees, no matter who you are.

To walk in those shoes for just a moment. I’m willing to bet more people watch the Oscars than an American President’s Inauguration… Hollywood is just politics with glitter after all.

James Cameron once said, “Failure is an option. Fear is not.” So I guess what I’m trying to say is never be defeated! Every year great movies are passed over but that doesn’t take away from their excellence because great work will live far beyond one ceremony. But… here’s hoping that one day soon the proverbial tables will flip back into an unloaded hand.

So I ask you to raise your tea cups full of wine, to all of this year’s movies. It takes sheer determination, perseverance, vision and brilliance to make any film, and we should take off our hats to each and every person who has the courage to fill up our lives with the worlds they have built in their minds.

Frances Brennand Roper

About Frances Brennand Roper

Frances Brennand Roper is an actress, writer, singer and film producer. Originally from Guernsey in the Channel Islands, she now happily lives in Los Angeles and is consistently working on new features with her production company Genre House Films. Follow Frances on twitter @brennandroper

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